It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time. It doesn’t matter if it’s the last time. It doesn’t matter that these men are now in their mid-50s or that Ian Brown’s voice is about as reliable as the Manchester weather. Seeing The Stone Roses is a cathartic experience for any number of music fans that have grown up to their songs – or spent years missing them since the first time around.

Few bands can get away with charging £65 for a ticket without any support, but then few bands are the Stone Roses – you’d be hard-pushed to find a gig at the First Direct Arena in 2017 with such a wide-ranging crowd. But DJ Phil’s presence only increases the expectation levels for a crowd on tenterhooks to see this era-defining band in a venue that lends itself to an intense experience from any angle with it’s theatre-style orientation.

As the boys stroll out nonchalantly to the deafening screams of a 13,500 strong capacity crowd, it’s easy to forget that this is a band that have been through more than most. They’ve endured a 15 year split, a tumultuous relationship with the press, legal battles with former labels and more in-house arguments than the House of Commons, yet they take this night and this tour as they did four nights at Manchester’s Etihad Stadium last summer – completely in their stride.

‘I Wanna Be Adored’ is the perfect set opener, with it’s slow rumbling bass riff crescendoing perfectly to allow an outpouring of bouncing, whirling chaos among those lucky enough to be by the stage. As the classics pour out, there is very much a ‘no-frills’ element to be enjoyed. Brown sips what appears to be a cup of tea at random intervals and throws maracas to fans in the front row rather than engaging at length with the crowd between songs.

But despite this, it’s hard not to be mesmerised by the skill of these four unassuming superstars from south Manchester. Reni’s enthusiastic drumming coupled with Squire’s mastery as a genuine guitar god is a sight to behold as the four-piece tear through a set bursting at the seams with classic after classic.

If you were unfamiliar with the Roses catalogue of tunes, you’d be forgiven for perhaps thinking Made of Stone would be the last song such was the emotional charge from the crowd, but it only increased further for She Bangs The Drums and This is the One thereafter, before the unashamedly groovy outro to I Am The Resurrection allowed for one last dance, one last outpouring of joy from this adoring crowd.

For many, this would be the first time seeing the Stone Roses. For all, it could well be the last. But almost 30 years down the line, these tunes mean as much to every fan inside the First Direct Arena tonight as they ever could. And as fans file out to the tune of the Roses’ most recent release ‘Beautiful Thing’ that love doesn’t look like fading any time soon.

Words: Dean Smith